It is now common to find robots at IT exhibitions and fairs but they are compromised models, looking like smiling cartoon characters and limited in what physical movements they can do. The Japanese view of robots is entirely different; not to create a model and then see how it can take on human and natural attributes, but to study natural mechanisms, develop prototypes and see how to replicate the natural characteristics in the new robots. In due course, it should not be possible to easily tell the difference between the two.
‘Prototyping in Tokyo’, the latest of the excellent series of exhibitions at Japanese House in Kensington, explores the work of Professor Yamanaka Shunji and his team at the Institute of Industrial Science at the University of Tokyo and how they develop, through the use of prototypes, different robotic models based on the natural movements and features which they aim to replicate, termed ‘bio-likeness’. To the Japanese, robots should have the same beauty as natural forms, not be something artificial and cartoon-like. Naturally, one of the main areas for such develop is that of prosthetics, developing artificial limbs which can be functionally and aesthetically as successful as the original ones they seek to replace.
A fascinating exhibition which gives a different Japanese biological and aesthetic view on the development of robotics.